The Hoosierist: An Airplane Race At The Speedway?

Flying high at the track, downtown food trucks, and White River party boats. Ask The Hoosierist.

Q: I hear they’re hosting an air race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Is that dangerous? 

A: At first, The Hoosierist thought this race was a joke. But the track will indeed host the Red Bull Air Race World Championship on October 1 and 2. High-performance prop planes will fly around a course delineated by inflatable pylons spanning the infield. Fans will sit in the north vista as ground-hugging aircraft blast by at 200 miles per hour. Though it sounds a bit dicey, race director Jim DiMatteo says they have everything under control. The Federal Aviation Administration signed off on the event, and there will be “specially trained rescue teams” on hand, should things go south. For what it’s worth, there hasn’t been a fatal crash since 2010.

Q: Are food trucks allowed to park on Monument Circle? Seems like a natural spot, but you never see them.

A: Food trucks don’t often park on the Circle for the same reason The Hoosierist doesn’t: There’s rarely an open space. “Parking is a crapshoot, and usually I lose,” says Matt Kornmeyer, owner of Scratch Truck and founder of the Indy Food Truck Alliance. “I quit trying to go there after my first three months in business.” Even if you find a spot, squeezing a box truck into one of those tight, curved spaces is tougher than making tacos in a 3-square-foot kitchen. Plus, the Circle’s brick-and-mortar eateries take exception to competitors parking directly out front, which further limits options. Of course, they’re still welcome during special events, when ample space is reserved for their boxy bulk. At any other time, however, parking a food truck there depends on the tenacity, luck, and skill of individual drivers. “It can be done,” Kornmeyer says. “But it requires the patience to go down there and just circle around and around until a space pops up.”

Q: I recently saw a large party boat working the Broad Ripple section of White River. Why don’t boats like that cruise the rest of the river?

A: The party boat in question is a shallow-draft paddle wheeler operated by the Broad Ripple Boat Company, which trundles up and down a short span of the river that’s deep enough to handle it. The fun ends at the Broad Ripple dam, which prevents further progress upstream. But even if it weren’t for this insurmountable physical obstruction, you still wouldn’t see large craft beyond that point. In many places, the depth of White River barely exceeds that of the water in The Hoosierist’s basement after a thunderstorm. Which is why Indy holds the “honor” of being the largest American city not located on a navigable waterway.